When I think about the times ahead of us right now, the political uncertainty and anxiety about what is to come, I feel tremendous gratitude for EBMC. As the election results were coming in, and my sense of fear began to grow, I knew I wanted to be at EBMC the next morning. The day after the November 2016 presidential election we held the doors of EBMC open for anyone to come through.
People came, and we practiced together. Ringing the bell and meditating together felt like a simple act of kindness and acknowledgment of the despair so many of us were feeling. By the time of the Midday Sangha at noon, there were more than 50 people gathered, and that number continued to grow throughout the day. We shared lunch and support, and in those hugs and conversations, I think we all felt a little bit of hopefulness.
EBMC is that place of refuge for me: a place to come and get grounded, to be in a community of people who share my commitment to racial and economic justice. A place where the intention to be in beloved community is so strong you feel it the minute you walk in the door. This is a place where people are practicing each moment how to be in community.
You could almost say I moved to Oakland to go to EBMC. I’ve been a union organizer for more than ten years. I was on the road all the time, working on strikes and immigrants’ rights campaigns around the country. I heard about the Alphabet Sangha and started going whenever I was in town. I had been to a few meditation centers, but none like EBMC, where people got to know each other, where conversation happened as part of the practice group, where new people are welcomed into the center as soon as they walk in the door. I had a sense of belonging in spiritual community and in the dharma in a way I had always wanted to but didn’t know how to make happen on my own.
And at EBMC my life and my practice have deepened. In 2015 I spent six months in EBMC’s White and Awakening in Sangha program designed for white people to work together to wake up to the suffering in the world and to come into wise relationship with our experience and responsibilities as white people who are committed to liberation. This is why EBMC means so much to me: it is helping me meet the real time conditions in my life and to grow.
I am now honored to help organize the newly created Social Justice sangha, and to serve on the Leadership Sangha, our board. To have a spiritual home that is not apart from what matters most to me in the world, but instead meets it with all the compassion and engagement possible, is the place for me. With so much uncertainty in the world, and here in Oakland, I hope you will join me in giving to EBMC and growing this necessary place of refuge.
With deep bows,